Clinical Presentation and Management of Headache in Pituitary Tumors

  • Himanshu Suri
  • Carrie DoughertyEmail author
Uncommon and/or Unusual Headaches and Syndromes (J Ailani, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Uncommon and/or Unusual Headaches and Syndromes


Purpose of Review

This article provides an overview of headache in the setting of pituitary adenoma. The purpose of this article is to educate providers on the association, possible pathophysiology, and the clinical presentation of headache in pituitary tumor.

Recent Findings

Recent prospective evaluations indicate that risk factors for development of headache in the setting of pituitary adenoma include highly proliferative tumors, cavernous sinus invasion, and personal or family history of headache. Migraine-like headaches are the predominant presentation. Unilateral headaches are often ipsilateral to the side of cavernous sinus invasion.


In summary, this paper describes how the size and type of pituitary tumors play an important role in causation of headaches. Pituitary adenoma-associated headache can also mimic primary headache disorders making recognition of a secondary process difficult. Therefore, this paper highlights the association of between trigeminal autonomic cephalgias and pituitary adenomas and urges practitioners to maintain a high index of suspicion when evaluating patients with these uncommon headache presentations. However, on balance, given the prevalence of both primary headache disorders and pituitary adenomas, determining causality can be challenging. A thoughtful and multidisciplinary approach is often the best management strategy, and treatment may require the expertise of multiple specialties including neurology, neurosurgery, and endocrinology.


Pituitary adenomas Non-functioning pituitary adenomal Prolactinoma Headache Trigeminal autonomic cephalgias 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Carrie Dougherty reports grants and personal fees from Amgen, personal fees from Alder, personal fees from electrocore, personal fees from Promius Pharma, and grants from Allergan, all outside the submitted work. Himanshu Suri declares no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyGeorgetown University Medical CenterWashington DCUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyMedStar Georgetown University HospitalWashington DCUSA

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